EXCLUSIVE: Defoe fears for Euro 2012 place
Published 22:31 24/11/11 By Darren Lewis
He hit five goals for the reserves on Tuesday, yet still cannot get into Tottenham's red-hot first team.
And Jermain Defoe has revealed there is a familiar feeling around the north Londoners’ camp after they leapfrogged Newcastle and Chelsea into third place this week.
“It feels just like the last time we finished in the top four,” the striker told the Mirror. “There is the same buzz around the place. It's not arrogance. It's the same confidence.
“Every game we go into, we respect our opponents but we have the belief in our own ability that we can get the result we want. We just want to keep that going.
“It must be great to watch. The way the lads move the ball, the energy in the team. Even if we miss chances the manager knows we will create more.
“I’ve seen all the talk about the title and nobody is saying we are definitely going to do that. Manchester City have got fantastic players and Manchester United have seen it all before.
“But we are there in third place and if the top two slip up, you never know what could happen.”
With eight wins and a draw from their last nine games, Harry Redknapp’s men are enjoying their best start to a season since 1966-67 (assuming three points for a win).
It is also the fifth time that Spurs have won eight of their first 11 top-flight matches, and on each of the previous occasions, they finished in the top four.
Defoe added, however: “You have to respect the other teams. Chelsea still have fantastic players and will bounce back.
“Arsenal are proving to everyone who doubted them what a great team they are.
"And Liverpool are putting in some quality performances. There is a long way to go and a lot of football to be played.”
Defoe himself is champing at the bit to play a bigger part in the club’s bid to break back into the big time with boss Harry Redknapp preferring Emmanuel Adebayor and Rafael van der Vaart.
Defoe made his 100th appearance as substitute in Monday night’s 2-0 win over Aston Villa.
The England striker then turned out for the stiffs the following day to hit those five goals against Charlton to show he still knows where the goal is.
“It was nice to show that I’ve still got the right attitude," said Defoe. "If I am needed I want to be ready.”
Spurs coach Clive Allen has told talkSPORT that Defoe can take a bigger hand in the club’s quest for success.
Allen said: “Jermain has been very unfortunate. He came for back pre-season looking sharp and in good shape. But Harry has made his decisions in terms of who has been playing and the results been fantastic.
“It’s a nice problem to have, but we know the quality Jermain has. He’s a fantastic player and goal-scorer and he’ll certainly play his part.”
That is music to the ears of the England striker, who admits he is concerned about missing out on next summer’s European Championship.
He added: “The manager and his staff have always been supportive and they’ve said I’ve just been unlucky as the team is playing so well.
“I can’t just tell the manager to change a winning team just for me. I know that. The lads have been brilliant. But I am fit, sharp and ready if I am called upon.
“I’m 29. I know that the reason I have been left out of the last few England squads is that I have not been starting for my club.
“Darren Bent has been playing regularly for Aston Villa and Danny Welbeck has been playing for Manchester United. So they are getting picked ahead of me.
Defoe’s response to being omitted from the last squad by Fabio Capello was another trip to France to work with 70-year-old fitness expert Tiberius Darau.
The Frenchman, recommended by Ian Wright, once worked with Arsenal and Defoe spent the summer with him.
Defoe said: “I won’t lie, I am worried about not going to the European Championship. I want to give myself every chance.
"It feels already a little bit like the 2005-06 season, when I scored a lot of goals but didn’t start a lot of matches.
“I ended up not going to the World Cup and I don’t want that to happen again.
"I believe [that] if I am playing, I have got a real chance of going to the Euros. But I’m going to bide my time.”
Defoe last started a Premier League game against Arsenal on October 2.
He has since come off the bench to score against Newcastle and Fulham, and has played home and away against Rubin Kazan in the Europa League.
QPR boss Neil Warnock is understood to have identified him as the top-quality finisher he is hunting to get the goals which will keep the club in the top flight.
Defoe said: “Fans who have probably read things come up to me every day and say, ‘Don’t leave the club.’ I was at a charity dinner the other night when a fan came up and said it to me.
“I’ve done it before - when I went to Portsmouth and scored my goals to remind people what I can do - but I am committed to Tottenham. I love the club and I love the fans.
“Its a really important time for the club. Everyone wants to play their part and I’m no different.”